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National Voter Registration Day Encourages Civic Engagement

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UFL chapter.

Sept. 28 marked the 2021 National Voter Registration Day, and countless organizations and volunteers are encouraging eligible Americans to continue registering to vote. 

Currently, one in four eligible Americans are not registered to vote, according to 2020 U.S. Census data. College students contribute to this statistic and are commonly unfamiliar with the voting process. Most college students reside outside their home counties, but they often forget to maintain and update their voter registration status. This, in conjunction with the failure to educate oneself of the voting process, contributes to low civic participation and increased voter misinformation.

Voter registration deadlines vary by state. In Florida, eligible voters must register 29 days before any election. For the upcoming 2022 midterm elections, the established deadline to register is Oct. 11, 2022.

Overall, registering to vote is a fairly simple and quick process. The University of Florida participates in the TurboVote online system, which allows students to register to vote within minutes. In addition, TurboVote will assist with updating voter registration status and requesting a vote-by-mail ballot. Florida residents are also able to register, update their registration or check their voter registration status through the Florida voter registration portal.

Several organizations at the University of Florida, like Chomp the Vote, are committed to registering, educating and encouraging every University of Florida student to vote in all elections. In partnership with the Bob Graham Center for Public Service, Chomp the Vote organized a Sept. 28 voter registration drive at the Reitz Union, Turlington Plaza and Pugh Hall. The effort sought to register students to vote and update their voter registration information. Tabling on campus offers students voter resources and assists with “any questions that students might have with regard to the electoral process,” according to Chomp the Vote. These initiatives help to alleviate any misunderstandings or confusion in regard to voting and are vital in preventing low voter turnout in any election.

For the 2020 general election, the voter turnout in Alachua County increased 1.7% since 2016. However, because voter turnout for midterm elections historically trails behind voter turnout for presidential elections, this increase may stagnate. Despite what the data suggests, local midterm elections are not any less crucial than presidential elections. In fact, citizens often experience the most direct impacts on the local level rather than on the national level.

The City of Gainesville scheduled a Special Election for Nov. 16 in which voters can cast their ballots to fill City Commission Seat B—formerly held by Commissioner Gail Johnson.

Some college students are not interested in voting for the county in which their college is located. Absentee ballots allow voters to cast their ballots for their home counties, despite not currently residing there.

Other students prefer to be politically involved while living in their college town, which includes voting for their local representatives. Ensuring that students have reliable information and necessary resources for voting is the role and obligation of groups like Chomp the Vote.

This continued dedication has led to the University of Florida’s inclusion in Washington Monthly’s list of America’s Best Colleges for Student Voting.

Mickenzie Hannon is a student at the University of Florida and pursuing a major in journalism with a data journalism concentration. She is particularly interested in political communication with an emphasis on global political relations and computational methods.